Personalized Learning is the NEXT big thing in education

As the semester winds down, I have found myself in the middle of some very interesting teacher conversations! While many of you reach out to me about the podcast or just to share the victories and frustrations of classroom life, there are a few of you who are looking to push the boundaries of your instruction and you want to use technology to do it. According to NPR, personalized learning is one of the major education issues on the horizon. As more of our classrooms become equipped with technology for each student, teachers are going to be tasked with creating learning experiences that are unique to each learner AND teach the skills students will need to be good digital citizens.

To that end and like I said earlier, I have been in some very interesting teacher conversations as a result! I had one teacher tell me that he only used technology in his classroom to be sure that students had not plagarized and another teacher tell me that when the wifi is down in her room she cannot teach at all. It seems like the role of technology in the classroom can be a polarizing issue and it is one that I want to discuss here. The truth is that the technological revolution is here. Gone are the days where we could get through the school year having never connected to the cloud. Still, parents and education leaders are calling for something of a middle ground.

“If it’s plopping down some obsolete or irrelevant curriculum on a laptop…It’s hard to get excited about that,” he says. “If it’s giving students more voice, helping them find their own talents… that’s better.” -Anya Kamenetz

The truth is that this balance is one we attempt to strike in our classrooms every day. We want to challenge students to interact with the world online because that is where they will work in the future, however, we want them to think independently no matter what they read or encounter. We are held accountable for each student’s learning but are unable to teach every student in the same way. Enter the personalized learning revolution. We can reach all children with the help of AI. I suggest the following for ensuring that you are striking a balance between project based face to face personalized learning experiences and computer driven personalized learning experiences in your classroom:

  1. Begin with low hanging fruit. According to NPR, research shows that teachers who attempt personalized learning in their classrooms are often on their own. They do not typically have the school supports or district supports to make large scale changes initially. With that in mind think about your lesson and determine where you can incorporate technology. This is probably going to look like either A. Independent or Group Practice AFTER you have modeled what to do OR B. Formative Assessment. Whichever is the case for your classroom, use a tech tool that is easy for you to understand, customize, and explain to your kids. Yes the platform is there to meet their learning needs but if you don’t understand it from the student perspective it won’t do the kids or you any good.
  2. Build Modeling Into the Lesson. Even if you are releasing students to do their work totally online via a learning platform, ALWAYS ALWAYS show them what to do. Talk them through your thinking step by step so that they are clear on what they are doing and how it connects to what they are learning in class. I have seen this detail neglected fairly often and the result is kids checking out when we need them to dial in.
  3. Solicit student feedback and respond to their concerns. At the end of your lessons/modules ask your students if it was time well spent. Ask them what they learned. You can tailor these questions to your lesson but the point is to be sure that they are walking away with the outcomes you wanted them to have.

Listen, classroom instruction is both an art and a science. Fortunately for us, technology is here to lend a helping hand. As you think about what to add to your classroom after the Christmas break, consider moving more towards personalized learning in your classroom. It is a move that benefits both you and your students.

Reach out to me on IG so that we can connect! @thefiredup_teacher. Follow me on Twitter at @firedupteacher and subscribe to The Fired Up Teacher’s Podcast on iTunes!

#StayLit Firestarters!

-Dr. Kia